Munster’s Good Friday Rugby Game

Drink and sport. On the one hand both are incompatible, but by proxy they go hand in in hand.

For instance if Paul O’Connell or Brian O’Driscoll were to arrive back at the team hotel in the am’s before a European Cup final bug eyed from Heineken offering the excuse that they was merely out endorsing the sponsors product, they’d be dropped.

Paul and Brian are allowed to talk about the Heineken Cup, dream about the Heineken Cup, give high falutin interviews in which they get all misty eyed about the exploits of Heineken Cup teams past, but they are not allowed drink from the Heineken Cup, until they win it, by which stage their alcohol tolerance is so low it’s all over after one pint and they’re carted out into the Paddy Wagon feet first.

In Mexico City they refer to the Paddy Wagon as a mother’s heart – cos  there’s always room for one more.

Meantime, note the sheer genius of the marketing men at Heineken.They spotted years back that the vast majority of the population are woeful at all sports. We’re beyond useless, as bad as that full back that used ply his trade in the lower echelons of the Football League.

Said defender, a man responsible for three heart attacks and a general sense of unease and foreboding in the ground every time his name appeared on the starting eleven on the match programme, was so harebrained that when the ball would arrive at his feet thousands of anxious fans would scream one word in unison – “concentrate”.

The marketing geniuses at Heineken correctly identified that there are tens of thousands out there, millions even, that are good at drinking and pontificating about sport but absolutely hideous at playing it.

They also correctly identified that a tiny minority, freaks, are actually good at this sport lark, but useless at drinking. It was a no brainer. They used the latter as the vehicle to get the former on board and correctly anticipated that we’d do the drinking for them, whilst they provided the backdrop to our nights out courtesy of winning and training, discussing tactics and other such distractions.

But clever and all as the clever marketing men at Heineken are (and only men can combine drink and sport in such harmony) they didn’t factor Jesus Christ being done in by the Romans and the Irish judiciary into their equation.

Likewise, Limerick’s publicans may be left with no option but to prostrate themselves in front of M’lud and our learned friends in the hope of arriving at a Good Friday Agreement.

Publicans in the Treaty City are up in arms because rugby chiefs, (Celtic League arseholes I believe) in cahoots with TV, rescheduled the upcoming Munster v Leinster Magners League fixture for Good Friday (April 2) – the day the bars are closed.

One Limerick publican said that he was very incensed, while a second bar owner said he was more than very incensed. A third said that while he was incensed that he wouldn’t go as far as to say that he was more incensed than someone that was very incensed.  Nevertheless, he confirmed that he was incensed and would remain incensed, going forward.

Cllr Gerry McLoughlin, taking a sabbatical from exchanging pleasantries with match officials, stressed that he was the first to become incensed, adding that staging the game on Good Friday was a disgrace.

In further reaction from Limerick’s elected representatives, Mayor Kevin Kiely said – to tell you the truth I can’t remember what he said. No one ever can.

But why would anyone endorse a fixture that would deny a local economy millions?

We saw this recently when the FAI were offered a home game against Brazil but took the game to London, denying fans the opportunity to see their country at home, fancy that, and the local economy in Dublin millions.

Now rugby chiefs, and surely the IRFU have some say in this matter, are denying the local economy in Limerick an estimated 5m.

Then again, the IRFU is an organization that had no problem selling 80,000 tickets for their games at Croke Park but went away and built a virtual new Stadium at Lansdowne Road with a capacity for just 50,000. This takes quite a bit of forward planning and concentration.

Anyway, an RTE report suggests that some sort of special licence could be granted to the pubs in Limerick so rugby fans can get rodent pouted on the night of the match. Pubs in the rest of the country will be closed – unless they can arrange a rugby game?

So there you have it. An arsehole reschedules one of the key matches on the domestic calendar for the one other day of the year (along with Christmas Day) when the pubs are not allowed to open and watering holes in Limerick may now have to wait on the discretion of a judge to be allowed trade off the 26,000 thousands fans who will attend a game that was originally fixed for Saturday April 3rd – until above arsehole got involved and changed it back to April 2nd.

If the judge is a Catholic, and this decision could come down to one person and his emotional attachment to a Christian deity who was executed by the Romans a few thousand years ago, then Limerick’s publicans could end up losing millions in the teeth of a recession, and all because we have not fully separated Church and State in this country.

The Romans are also to blame for killing Jesus. What did the Romans ever do for us by the way?

The law banning the selling of alcohol on Good Friday and Christmas Day was first introduced in 1927, back in the days when the crozier hovered over the land, back in the days before the clever marketing men at Heineken spotted an opening in the market.

But hold on, I have a solution. Why doesn’t the arsehole that rearranged this fixture pull it back another 24 hours to April 1st, a date that would be entirely appropiate given the almighty fuck up they’ve caused by interfering with the original date in the first place.

Another solution would be to drop all of this Good Friday lark and start behaving like a liberal European democracy. But that would be just mad in a 21st century society, wouldn’t it Ted?

Incidentally , drink will be on sale inside Thomond Park on the night of the match but not outside the ground. Try explaining that to Johnny Foreigner.

Meanwhile, from a sporting perspective, what fuckwit pencilled in this fixture – face it, if Munster and Leinster meet in tag rugby game at this stage they’ll be trying to murder each other – a week before both provinces are involved in crucial European Cup games?

Did above fuckwit imagine that Munster, who’ve qualified for the knockout stages of the European Cup for the last two thousand years, and defending European champions Leinster, would not reach the business end of the blue riband tournament of European club rugby?

Only in Ireland.

Favourites Rugby

Miracle Match — A Kind of Short Story

The little fella is sitting on my shoulders. He’s excited and it’s hard to blame him, but I know we’re up against it.

This is the best team in England, I tell him. We’d need a miracle, so don’t get your hopes up.

We get a penalty.

They get a penalty.

It’s 3 each.

We score a try. It’s 8-3.

They get a penalty. It’s 8-6.

We get a penalty. It’s 11-6.

We get a try. It’s 16-6.

We get a penalty.

The little fella tugs at my shoulder. 19-6 he says, but there’s only ten minutes left.

OK kid, I say. The home record’s intact.

We get a try. Jesus Christ, it’s 24-6.

18 ahead, but we need 27 clear and we need four tries. It can’t happen against the best team in England.

We convert. It’s 26-6.

People are turning around to look at each other. How much was it we needed?

Something happens, but we can’t see. It’s up the sideline in the corner. People are leaning out.

Oh Jesus, was that a try?

The little fella has a better view.  It was, he says.

31-6?   I don’t believe this. There’s only a few seconds left, and the conversion is from right on the edge. Can he do it?

If he can kick this, we’re through and the best team in England are out.

The little fella tugs at my shoulder. Is it OK if I get my hopes up?

Bock's People


Last night was the feast of Saint Halloween, patron saint of feral children.

This is the day, every year, when urchins gather by the roadside to practise the traditional art of flinging eggs at cars, and when their parents stand around a huge bonfire drinking Dutch Gold and freeing the spirit of the god, Dioxin.


Once a year, on this day, even hardened atheists pray: for rain, and our prayers were answered last night when it started to rain heavily at about 11 o’clock, sending thousand of disappointed pyjama people home, too sober and too early, their celebrations in ruins, a heap of half-melted wheelie-bins and smouldering mattresses.

Our prayer wasn’t answered too early though.  The day started bright, crisp and sunny.  Just the thing for a walk by the river, followed by a browse around the market004

People-watching and nibbling little treats before wandering off for a coffee and a read of the paper.009

This is the last time we’ll see the market  in its present form, open to the elements.  It closes for six months while they put  a giant umbrella over it.


Traders have mixed views about this, and I have misgivings myself but we’ll have to give it a chance.


Time for a coffee in Nancy’s and a chat.

The world’s funniest German is in good form.  He kills us with his latest joke: Hello.  Can I help you?


Things are looking grim here too.  A harsh disciplinary regime means that cheeky customers can expect no mercy:


It’s a busy day.  We’re off to Thomond Park to meet Ulster in a Magners League match.  Bullet and myself got lucky and secured stand tickets through a kind friend.



Ulster are tough opposition, but Munster grind out a good victory, securing a bonus point for four tries and winning 24-10.  How bad?


After that, what else can you do only get down to some serious partying?  Saint Halloween delivered, bless him, providing rain, music and drink.

What more could one ask from the patron saint of feral children?


[scrollGallery id=11]

Neglecting The Soul of Rugby

It’s a speck high up over Pa Healy’s field. The long diagonal isn’t spinning like it does on TV; you’re transfixed by the unpredictability. The chaotic twisting is matched by the gusting Antarctic wind ripping along the Abbey River behind you. Your hands are blue and the pungent smell of other people lingers on your black and blue jersey. The tape holding the sole onto your right boot has loosened, you have no sensation below the ankle and you’re standing in a puddle of muddy frozen water. There is no suspended animation Matrix moment; you are very present and very frightened. Four people in light blue shirts are charging at you in anticipation of you catching the ball which you have not yet decided to do. The gusting wind whips it right and left and you shift your sodden feet in anticipation, but you’re hoping that the full back will come in behind and call it as his. He doesn’t. (Actually you remember afterwards, him smiling and shouting your ball). The ball arrives with the four blue shirts and in an instant; you are thrown backwards and violently to the ground. There are multiple shocks, the first dive into an early Spring Atlantic, being mugged by a gang of very big and very vicious people. You’ve dropped the ball, metaphorically too for they have it now, you are discarded and shoed and you look up from the flat of your back at where that speck first floated into your view and for a moment, you notice how nice the winter sky looks and then someone shouts Get up!

Junior rugby players are world class athletes, short some talent speed and coordination, and the junior team is the soul of rugby. You can have your Heineken cup and your Grand Slam, but until you have played in or watched the 3rd round of the Munster Junior cup, the whole concept escapes you. Yes the Munster crowd travel to Biarritz and frame their weekends with a match and a glass of Pinot Noir, but this is in the cheap seats when compared with a match against Kilfeacle and the near-death experience from exposure in the shadow of the Galtees. Paul O’Connell still remembers this place when he called it Killpeople. And as you sit in the dressing-room before the match waiting, waiting to be selected, when to be picked is the most important thing in your world because you haven’t yet found love, and the adults come by and point, tog off, tog off, tog off, fuck off and give your boots to him, you can handle any rejection in life. There are some who are gifted, who are only passing through on their way to the Senior Team, and you wish they’d hurry up and then remember that there’ll be another fucker coming down.

It's all for the glamour of course, The Club Rugby Game.
It's all for the glamour of course, The Club Rugby Game.

These days they bring their own water bottles and power drinks and are never short bandages, double sided tape, Vaseline or tear inducing wintergreen. These days they have their own shampoo and even dye their hair. I suppose these days they might even be better, but I wonder. There’s an iconic match from a hundred years ago where a Barbarian team beat the All Blacks and Phil Bennet danced around Twickenham before Michael Jackson ever played rugby, where that big poncy David Duckham with his Brideshead Revisited blond head cut through the New Zealanders, and before I knew what apartheid was we cheered for the mad paddies Willie John and Fergus Slattary. And later when we went out to play in an Under-13 match against the Cookies, when they were still called Young Munster, well for a moment we were an amalgamation of that lot until Tom Clifford’s young fella ran though us like a ten-pin bowling ball hitting a strike.

There’s a poverty escape in professional rugby which is not talked about much, where Tsunami ozone breathing South Sea islanders learn a choreographed haka and the crowd cheer and roar and yes it is some sight, but it’s a veneer and a fragile one in this part of the world anyway. The game here appears in rude health like the Irish economy did a heartbeat ago and just like the basket case the economy has become, the fundamentals in the game are being neglected. So before the hoopla re-commences in September with the unseemly scramble for tickets which reminds me of everything which is wrong with the human race, before the red and blue madness descends on Limerick and Dublin, take a stroll down the canal bank on a Sunday morning and spare a thought for Richmond or Saints as they battle manfully against giants from Clonakility or Scariff. The loved-up bubble in Thomond Park will not last forever.

There was a chess player who used to play on the wing. Dan was wicked fast, with blinding speed and brave in the tackle. The only problem was he used to work on his Sicilian Defence when he should have been working on our defence. But we loved Dan and used to shout at him constantly to tune in or cop on because no one was faster. Eventually we learned to drop back behind him cause we knew he was doing the pawn to king 4 thing. Tracy, Ryle or their own personal Jesus, George Hook, won’t understand Dan and how important he is to the game, how he contributes to the soul of the club and how he is as essential to the success of Irish Rugby as Paulie or Drico.

Rugby Sport

Munster Fans Safe

The phone rang.  It was the Big Fella.

– Jesus, I said.  We all thought you were dead.

Really?  he rasped.  Well fucking SNAP!  So did I.

Tell me, I urged him.

Well, he replied, let me put it like thisDid you ever find yourself freewheeling down the side of a mountain with a sheer drop on one side and a solid wall of rock on the other, with your foot on the brake, leaning over the steering wheel trying to see the front of the car?

Eh, no.

No, he said.  Me neither, until Saturday.  I thought we were fuckin dead.

I can imagine.

No you can’t.  It’s the most frightened I’ve ever been.



Worse than the time you thought you could beat the midget sumo wrestler in Amsterdam?

Much worse.

Worse than when the Jack Russell caught you by the scrotum for taking his favourite baby-rattle?


Jesus.  Worse than the time you bumped into those three Finnish women and —

Aaarrrggghhh! he screamed. Don’t fuckin remind me.  It wasn’t that bad, but it was close.

Jesus.  Close, eh?  Sounds bad.  Was that in Andorra?

That was when we were trying to get out of fuckin Andorra.  We couldn’t go to Montauban cos the road was blocked by the storm so we decided to go back to Barcelona.

Tough trip.

Tough?  I thought we’d be going home in a fuckin box.

So you missed the match. 

– Yeah.  We stayed the night in Barcelona, and the Small Fella got robbed.

Well, that’s Barcelona for you.  I’d say he was pissed off.



Really?  You mean – ?

Yup.  As usual.

You mean he – ?

Yup.  Scored.




Meanwhile, at the match …

(video courtesy of le Coq sportif)


Munster Fans Missing

I dont know where my people are.

A gang of likely lads headed off to Girona last Wednesday and I havent heard a word from them since. They were planning to pick up a car and head north, stopping in Andorra for a couple of days to do a bit of skiing.; That was the main reason I dropped out, even though my flight was booked and everything.;

I have no interest in skiing.; Could you imagine me tottering around on the nursery slopes, grunting at people who tried to help me.; Fuck off you miserable Andorra-type bastard person!; Not for me this skiing business.

Of course, as you know, my decision turned out to be prescient indeed, since all of northern Spain and southern France were attacked by a goddam hurricane yesterday, forcing the postponement of the match.; I presume that such storms are no respecters of tiny Pyrenean principalities, and therefore it only seems logical that Andorra had the shit blown out of it too.

So heres the question: where are the lads?; Did they get blown off a mountain? During todays match, I received not even a single text, despite Munsters rampaging 39-13 dispatch of Montauban.; This is unusual.; Normally you cant shut them up, and now Im worried.

Where are the muck-savages?; Did they make it to Montauban at all?; Did they see the match?; Do they even know we have Ospreys in Thomond Park for the quarter final?

If youre reading this in south-western France or northern Spain in the Toulouse – Barcelona region, would you keep an eye out for a bunch of rough-looking customers, unshaven, beer-headed and wearing slept-in Munster rugby shirts?

I think we might have mislaid our troops.

Bock's People Favourites Humour Media Our lives Rugby Sport Stories World

Heineken Cup — Munster vs Gloucester

Forget Bertie Ahern.

Forget Iraq.

Forget global warming.

Forget the banking crisis.

Tomorrow, Munster meet Gloucester in a make-or-break crunch game that will either see us progress to the semi-finals or crash out of the competition.

Already, we’re wondering why Tomás O Leary is in and Peter Stringer is out.  Why there’s no place for Shaun Payne. If Paul O Connell is up to a full game.  Why Foley isn’t in the starting fifteen.  If Quinlan will keep his discipline.  What magic Dougie Howlett will produce.

Make no mistake: this is a serious business, and folks around these parts are serious about it.  The travelling multitude of Limerick people have already left for Gloucester, and those left behind are starting to wear that tell-tale anxious frown.   Two years ago, when we beat Biarritz in the final, Bullet and myself were among that travelling host, and perhaps if we make it through this year, we might go again, but tomorrow we’ll have to settle for the telly, along with a hundred thousand other Limerick people.

Tomorrow will be a grim day of cheering and Guinness and  hands over eyes and more beer and more cheering and hiding behind chairs and screaming and looking through your fingers and jumping up and down and with any luck everybody hugging each other and more Guinness.  And a party one way or the other.

Grim work.

Serious business.



Munster 16 — Gloucester 3

Well, that was a comprehensive win, wasn’t it?  I take back everything I said about Declan Kidney’s selection.  I was wrong.  Tomá¡s O Leary had a fine game at scrum half and so did Denis Hurley at full back.

Outstanding stuff.

There were no passengers on the Munster team.  Everyone pulled their weight and some were absolutely faultless.  Doug Howlett gave everything and was as effective in defence as he was in attack. The back three were simply beyond comparison, and Tipoki at number 13 was terrifying. Ian Dowling returned from injury at number 11 and showed the kind of skill as a winger that would earn him a place on any team in the world.

And that’s only the backs.

Do you want to talk about the forwards?

Paul O Connell?  Massive.

Freddy Pucciarello?  Savage as ever.

Donncha?  Do you need to ask?

Denis Leamy? Maniac.

I could go on with this shit all night, but you wouldn’t listen.   Look.  Let’s just confirm that Munster went to the cauldron of Kingsholm, the home of Gloucester rugby, and dismissed the home team summarily.

But let’s not show disrespect to the Gloucester side. I was proud of Paul O Connell when he gave the post-match interview, because he didn’t gloat, nor should he.  Paulie acknowledged that we were lucky when Chris Paterson missed the three penalty kicks, giving us momentum, and without that it could have been a lot different.

But it wasn’t, and now Munster march on to the semi-final.  Keep the faith.



Munster 19 ââ€â€ London Wasps 3

Munster 36 – Clermont 13

Limehouse Dick comes good again

Limehouse Dick

Carer wanted

No More Heineken Cup?

Oh Yes, He’s the Great Zucchini



Bruff RFC

Gloucester Rugby Club




Limerick Leader

Rugby Sport

Eddie O Sullivan Confirmed As New Munster Manager

Eddie O Sullivan is officially confirmed as the favourite for the Munster job when Declan Kidney takes over as coach of the international team.

It’s hard to believe. After all the trouble we had getting rid of him from the Ireland job, he now sneaks in the back door to take over Munster.

I can’t fuckin believe it.

OK, let me tell you something. This will be resisted.

I’m starting a No To Eddie campaign right here and now. If you want to be part of it, either email me or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

We’re not taking this lying down.

Bock's People Favourites Humour Media Our lives Rugby Sport Stories World

Munster 19 — London Wasps 3

God, that felt good!

(Pics (c) Inpho Photography from

Like Ronan here, I went home with two smiles on my face, and Bullet had another two, but that was fine. There were enough smiles to go round for everybody last night, and even though we were all soaked to the skin, nobody cared. It isn’t every day you welcome the mighty London Wasps, reigning European Champions, into your football ground and send them home with nothing.

My God, did it feel good.

And let me add that London Wasps are not only the Champions, but a very hard crowd of bastards indeed. Serious professionals led by a consummate professional in Lawrence Dallaglio, and an outfit to be both respected and feared. A bunch who did not come here for fun, or for a weekend in the pub, but to extinguish our challenge. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t work that way, as Munster calmly and professionally dismantled them, outplayed them, outwitted them and sent them home bereft of title and of hope. And wet.

(By the way, Wasps have an excellent blow-by-blow match commentary on their site here).

It was a grim day. Grim. Damp. Brooding and dark. Did I mention grim? It rained, and then it rained some more. And then it rained. It was one of those days when you’d prefer to be stranded in the middle of the Sahara, with volcanoes erupting all around you and an iceberg crushing you to death while wild Tasmanian devils gnaw at your armpit. At least it wouldn’t be raining.

Wasps started well with an early three points, but that was the end of their success and we went in at half time, ahead 9 points to three. When Dougie Howlett put in this tackle in injury time, Wasps knew they could look forward to a testing second half, and Munster fans began to relax, after they’d stopped laughing.

Now, my friends, I have an apology to make. I’m afraid the quality of photography is poor because the dampness, and the rainingness, and all the wetness steamed up my lens and eventually forced me to put the camera away for its own safety, but still, I have a few of my own pics for you as well as the ones I stole from Wasps and Munster Rugby.

Here’s the half-finished construction site that we call our stadium. It’ll be great when it’s done, but right now, it’s all a bit strange and a bit surreal, and probably an intimidating place for most visitors, though not for London Wasps who really don’t care what the supporters think of them. I mean that as a compliment.

And here’s the Munster crowd: fine honest upstanding men and women every one of them. A bit blurred, I’m afraid, but you have to remember these pictures were taken underwater.

I noticed this outside a church on the way to the game, and it gives you some idea of how rooted rugby football is in this town:

This is just a miserable shot of a miserable day as people make their way there.

And these are the mounted police. So necessary at a rugby match in Thomond Park, where there has never in recorded history been a single instance of crowd trouble and where any sort of ugliness, except on the field, would be unthinkable. Still, the horses looked nice.

Here’s a few action shots in the murk and the mud.

There’s Lawrence Dallaglio, encouraging his troops during a lull in the game. The crowd love him and hate him at the same time. They sang Cheerio when he was sin-binned, and booed him when he came back, but you just know that every one of them wants to bump into him in some Limerick pub after the match and talk football.

It was wet. It was damp. And it was cold. I put my camera away to save it from destruction, and then, when it was safely in its bag, Denis Leamy went over the line for the try, right in front of us. Shit! The crowd went apeshit, Wasps’ heads sank chestwards, and the sky began to clear. I kid you not. Once Munster’s victory was assured, the elements decided they’d done their job and closed up shop.

We left the ground with only the lightest of mists swirling around in a light breeze, and as we strolled back to town, Bullet turned to me.

You know, he said, I’ve just realised something. Wasps are out. Clermont are out. And we’re through. Who’d have thought it?

You know, Bullet, I replied, you might well be dead right. How about that?

And then we went for fish ‘n’ chips.

I love this



This is the draw for the Quarter Finals on the weekend of 4-5-6 April.

Saracens v Ospreys

London Irish v Perpignan

Gloucester Rugby v Munster

Toulouse v Cardiff Blues




Clermont-Auvergne 26 — Munster 19

Well? Did you see the match?

Was that simply astounding or what? I’d safely say that the first half was one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen by Munster, and the second half was one of the best. When Munster went in at half time 20 – 3 down, I really thought we were screwed, and although I know we still lost, we got what we went to France for: the vital bonus point. Now it’s down to an old-fashioned slug-it-out showdown here in Limerick next weekend between our guys and London Wasps, a hard crowd of bastards.

Aha! Last time we met, they beat us by one point, and that was in their backyard. Wait till they come to Limerick and we’ll see what they’re made of.

It looks like we might be without this fellow.

Jerry seems to have inadvertently viciously stamped his boot into the face of Julien Bonnaire and it looks increasingly likely that he’ll be cited for it, with a good chance of being suspended. Not good.



Nevertheless, yesterday’s second half was a truly uplifting spectacle as the Munster team dug deep into the reserves of fortitude only they can produce, and delivered a huge onslaught that left Clermont a little stunned and no doubt cursing their own complacency.



What’s more, it looks like this guy is going to fit right in at Munster, unlike his taciturn compatriot, Chris Cullen, who came here for a highly-paid holiday.

Even though Dougie hasn’t had a competitive game since September, the All-Blacks’ top try-scorer looked every inch a Munster player in his commitment and he’ll be even better next Saturday. We don’t mind if he jumps on a few parked cars to celebrate.

But you know, it won’t do to be too casual. Come next Saturday, I guarantee you there won’t be a sane man or woman in this town. There will be thousands and thousands of nervous wrecks as the 80 minutes play out, and I guarantee you something else. It will be no routine game of football.



This will be open warfare as the Wasps death star comes to town, led by their very own Darth Vader.

These boys are not coming here for fun and this game is going to be a very grim affair. Very grim indeed, one suspects.

I’ll be there. So will Bullet. I’ll let you know how we get on.







Jerry Flannery will be able to play on Saturday.  The disciplinary hearing won’t be held until next week.





Bruff RFC